On Sunday 2nd of July, I celebrated the fact I’ve been on this Earth now for 25 years. There was presents, cake and family time. There was also sunshine, which was unusual because it’s raining most years. It was a happy day.
It also made me realise that half of another year has gone and I considered the age of 25 to be an appropriately adult age. So what had I done with myself this year?
Besides recently washing my ENTIRE wash basket (something I am extremely proud of), my greatest achievement this year is that I can leave the house and buy milk.
The reasoning behind that is I have to have breakfast before I leave the house. Doesn’t matter whether it’s 3am heading for a holiday or 2pm when I wake up after a night out. My first meal of the day is breakfast. It took me some months to create that habit and now I can’t do without it. It prepares my body for the day, for my meds and calms my anxiety before it even wakes up. But it does always mean I need to have milk or bread in the house. Sometimes I treat myself and have toasted fruit loaf but as long as I have breakfast, I can start the day.
So when I woke up one morning and no promised milk was in the fridge and no edible bread was in the house, I panicked. I remember this morning well because I immediately went back to bed and instantly thought my entire day was ruined. I had no milk. The logical side of me that was floating in the background told me to go and buy milk. I had a little shop at the end of the road and could easily pop there, in my joggers and buy milk. Not even a five minute errand.
It took me two hours to gather the courage to even consider getting milk. I lay in bed and thought of all the things I should be doing at that moment, if I had eaten my breakfast. I had a list of chores to do and I wanted to write and I had an appointment but I couldn’t do any of it until I had breakfast. And I couldn’t have breakfast until I had milk but I couldn’t go get milk until I had breakfast. I couldn’t go get milk because my anxiety was swimming through my veins, telling me I could not go get milk. I hid under my covers, held my head in my hands and wished I could drag all the thoughts out of my head and just go get some milk. Why couldn’t I just go get milk?
Something in me snapped, like I knew it would. For me, it always does. I threw on some leggings, put a hoodie over my pyjama top, grabbed some change and ran out the door. The adrenaline was pumping, I could feel my heart racing and I was genuinely fearful for my life. I wanted nothing more than to go back inside, close the door and forget about the milk. But if I wanted my day to continue then I needed that damn milk.
I walked to the shop, bought milk, walked back and locked the door. I had spent two hours agonising over a three minute journey. And, as I ate my cereal, all my anxiety could say was, you should have done that earlier, look at all the time you’ve now wasted.
Fuck you anxiety.
Now, six or seven months on, the medication has settled and is doing it’s job. The counselling has begun and though I still have a way to go, I am on my way. People take for granted the little things they can do every day without even thinking about it. I know I used to. But now I’ve been on the other side, I am forever grateful for the chance to do those things. When I pick up my milk or run out to get bread, I always smile and give myself a pat on the back and I shall never take it for granted again.
At the age of 25, many of my peers are married, have children, have houses. There are so many people out there and their lives seem perfectly put together and I used to sit back and think, how do they do that? Why do they seem to have done so much and I seem to have done so little?
I’m not thinking like that anymore. This is my life and one of my greatest achievements is that I can go to the shop and buy milk. It doesn’t matter how trivial or tiny that may appear. It is a milestone I have crossed and something I have worked on to make my life better.
So when you’re comparing your life to those picture perfect Instagram accounts and your friends from school who have settled, stop and look back at what you have done. Whether you’ve written something for the first time in months, or sat down and told yourself you’re going to change your life or even if you’ve smiled at yourself in the mirror, these are all achievements, milestones, moments to be proud of. Hold your head up high and say;
“Today I bought milk. And I was awesome.”